Chris Nicholas is out for a jog. It’s been a pretty decent jaunt– he’s been at it for three-and-a-half weeks, but there’s still a bit left to go: another 2,100 miles worth or so.
Nicholas is an long distance runner and a host of the endurance sports podcast radio show Pace Per Mile. With some remote support from his colleagues at Pace Per Mile, Nicholas is running across the U.S. solo, something he says that only about 300 people have done.
“To be in that percentage is pretty darn cool,” Nicholas said, after stopping by the Advocate-Press offices Wednesday afternoon.
Nicholas is running to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network, a non-profit group which raises funds for over 170 hospitals. Nicholas said that his choice of the Children’s Miracle Network was made largely for the sake of his donors.
“The way the Children’s Miracle Network works is that when people donate on my website, those dollars will stay in those communities where there’s a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital,” Nicholas said, “I’m from Grand Rapids, Mich. and I didn’t want to be talking to people and asking them to donate and then have those dollars go back to Michigan. That way it ties in people across the country.”
Nicholas says that he has been trying to average 35 to 40 miles a day. He pushes a jogging stroller with him that contains his supplies. Hi longest day so far was 48 miles, but this Wednesday came close, with his run from Olney to Salem at 46 miles.
Nicholas began distance running in Cross Country in High School. He said he took a few years off, but decided he would run across the U.S. last year.
“Between running days and rest days, it’s going to take me a little over three months.” said Nicholas, saying that he is “Only a little over a quarter of the way now, just over 700 miles.”
Difficult points so far have been in handling inclines (and worse he says, declines) in West Virginia.
“A second thing would be, I have been chased by a lot of dogs,” said Nicholas. “And that’s no fun at all.”
The third difficulty has been summoning the mental endurance necessary to keep going, mile after mile, hour after hour and day after day.
“When people say it’s mental, it really is,” Nicholas said. “The physical side can be a challenge and sometimes it really is, but thinking about it and being out there 12 to sometimes 15 hours per day, you really have to focus and say, ‘I’ve got to be on this road for 8 more hours and deal with it.’”
Nicholas has had many highlights and met a lot of good folks too. A fire department let him stay in their station where he befriended the firefighter. He has had meals bought for him, including one on his first day out. Most memorable so far though was in Cincinnati, when he was invited to throw out the opening pitch for the Reds game versus the Cardinals.